We chanted “death to 2020”, and 2021 showed up and said, “hold my beer”.
Turns out, among other bewildering realities, a new wave of COVID-19 is breaking. Once again we’re being reminded to abide by guidances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask when you go out.
If “out” for you includes training/the gym, the last of these guidelines might give you pause.
Can I wear a mask while working out?
Well, it’s complicated.
Wearing a mask may reduce the ability to breath comfortably. And, if you're affected by lung disease "such as asthma, COPD, or heart disease, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider before attempting exercise with any mask". [source: CDC]
Otherwise, the CDC states,
"For healthy people, wearing masks during exercise has not been shown to be harmful."
If this is you, and masks feel uncomfortable when you first put them on, we're sharing tips on how to regulate breathing and fill your lungs with enough oxygen in this week's newsletter. Subscribe here.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most important preventative measure during exercise is to maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from those around you.
Depending on your gym or studio, this distance could be hard to achieve. Since intense workouts with heavy breathing have "an increased chance of spreading respiratory droplets from your mouth and nose" [CDC], you may feel more comfortable using a mask as well. This is why sport masks or workout masks are recommended.
What makes for a good sport mask experience?
The University of Chicago conducted a study published by the American Chemical Society testing the filtration efficiencies of common fabrics. It was found that masks made with a fabric blend and two layers were nearly as effective as N95 medical-grade masks. These masks filtered out 80% to 90% of particles.
Moisture-wicking performance fabrics breathe well and help with sweat control.
It’s also important not to have any gaps between the edges of the mask and your face. Adjustable ear loops and a nose wire can help with that, making the fit customizable.
This pandemic has shifted the way we do everything, and it seems as though masks are going to be a part of our reality for a while. In times like these, physical and mental health require extra special attention. For many of us, physical activity is the tool that brings us back to baseline and, in the face of anxiety and so many unknowns, reminds us to breathe.
So hang in there, keep moving, and please, stay safe!
What’s your anti-contamination technique when exercising in group settings? Comment below 👇🏿.